“Tonight” by Uttaran Das Gupta

Uttaran Das Gupta


The night is as still as paper, and ambulance
    sirens are paper cutters. If, by chance,
the stench of burning flesh, the heat, keep you from sleep,
    search for the breathless to rescue. We keep
up a lookout for oxygen. Construction workers
    dismantle public parks to build burners.
We’ve lost count of how many are undone. We dig
    shallow graves, we requisition big
cranes to turn over earth, but nothing is enough
    for the assembly line of corpses. We’d give up,
we’d run away, but there’s nowhere to run. The night
    is still like dry paper, and full of light.

from Poets Respond
May 2, 2021


Uttaran Das Gupta: “India has been reeling from a devastating second wave, with the daily caseload rising to more than 400,000 and people dying as the health infrastructure collapses. As several national and international experts have pointed out, this human tragedy is a result of gross negligence on the part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which ignored warnings of health experts about the second wave and failed to prepare for it. This poem tries to capture some of the images of this tragedy.” (web)

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